June 04, 2024
Case Study

Target Audience Analysis: The 13 steps three brands followed to get results


All marketing is aimed at a human being. The better you understand the people you are trying to reach, the more effective your marketing will be.

In this article, we show you how companies worked to better understand their ideal customers.

Read on to see:

  • How a clothing brand utilized AI to generate detailed audience segments based on user demographics, interests, and behaviors
  • How a Bitcoin ATM company focused on understanding what link creators need and tailoring content to meet those needs
  • How a medical spa analyzed its audience's preferences to design engaging social media campaigns without a purchase requirement
by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

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Quick Case Study #1: How a clothing brand increased display ad clicks 253% with niche targeting ideas from an AI-powered persona generator

Faye is a designer kids’ wear brand catering to girls. Like most ecommerce companies, it relies heavily on display ads for product promotions.

BEFORE: Product-based audience targeting for display ads

Faye’s marketing team had been running display ads for well over a year, directly targeting relevant audience segments such as ‘children's apparel,’ ‘baby & toddler apparel,’ and ‘gifts & occasions’ on Google Ads.

Creative Sample #1: Previous ad targeting for clothing brand

Creative Sample #1: Previous ad targeting for clothing brand

The team generated approximately 8,000 clicks per week with an average click-through rate (CTR) of 4%, and they wanted to further expand their digital reach. So they needed to find new display ad audiences to target.

It was easier said than done.

Although Google Analytics provides valuable data on website traffic and user behavior, it did not give them a comprehensive understanding of their visitors and buyers, which was essential for identifying new audience segments and ad targeting opportunities.

The team had a lot of marketing and web analytics data, but it was heavily underutilized.

AFTER: Niche audience segments and attributes guide targeting for display ads

Your ideal customer doesn’t only care about your products or services. They have three-dimensional lives with many other interests as well. The team sought to discover and tap into those interests.

Step #1: Supplement existing analytics with advanced tools

In order to better understand those interests and build well-rounded personas, the marketing team supplemented the insights received from Google Analytics by connecting an AI-powered persona generator to the clothing brand’s Google Analytics and Search Console accounts.

Step #2: Create detailed audience segments (personas)

They built eight detailed audience segments. Each persona was created based on similarities in user demographics, hobbies, interests, behaviors, purchasing patterns, and so on.

The team further identified unique attributes specific to the best-performing, high-converting user segments (buyers), as compared to the non-converting segments (bouncers and passive browsers). For example, hobbies like comics and crafts.

Creative Sample #2: Example of AI-generated persona

Creative Sample #2: Example of AI-generated persona

“With data-driven personas, we were able to analyze our website visitors and build narrowed segments that would drive the most results,” said Jose John, Founder, Faye.

Step #3: Analyze industry-specific insights

They also received industry-specific insights extracted from page views, search queries, and keywords. Keywords were grouped and presented in terms of relevant attributes such as size, gender, occasion, type, color, age group, and more.

Creative Sample #3: AI-generated industry specific insights

Creative Sample #3: AI-generated industry specific insights

Step #4: Expand target segments beyond direct product relevance

Armed with these insights, the brand went more broad (targeting segments not directly related to its products) by focusing on the new niche segments built from its ideal customers’ interests. For example, the team targeted newer audience segments based on their hobbies, such as ‘Comics & Animation fans’ and ‘Arts & Crafts Supplies.’

Step #5: Tailor ad creative and messaging

The children’s wear company then reached these audiences with ad creatives and messaging that were tailored based on the industry-specific insights.

“The hobbies were used to build audiences in Google Ads while the industry-specific insights were used for ad creatives. The display ad that you see was created with these industry insights in mind – a female child in a pink party dress,” said Sujit Zachariah, Founder, Delve AI (the tool Faye used to create data-driven personas automatically).

Creative Sample #4: New display ad

Creative Sample #4: New display ad

RESULTS: Reaching new audience segments without hurting CTR performance significantly

The children’s clothing company witnessed a 367% increase in the number of impressions and 253% increase in the number of clicks.

In turn, the click-through rates (CTR) of the newly targeted segments were not significantly worse than their pre-existing best performing segments, so they were able to expand to new (seemingly unrelated) audiences without markedly hurting CTR performance.

New audiences:

  • Comics & Animation Fans – 3.88% CTR on 791,944 impressions for 30,749 clicks
  • Arts & Craft Supplies – 3.44% CTR on 17,740 impressions for 611 clicks

Previous audiences:

  • Children’s Apparel – 5.07% CTR on 74,960 impressions for 3,804 clicks
  • Gifts & Occasions – 4.16% CTR on 67,421 impressions for 2,808 clicks
  • Baby & Toddler Apparel – 4.12% CTR on 31,229 impressions for 1,287 clicks

“Our new audience segments gave us way more clicks and impressions than all our earlier segments combined. This was great on its own, plus the CTR was comparable to our past results,” John said. “If you think you are falling short and AI can do a better job, or help you make data-driven decisions, try out AI analytics tools.”

“I think it just goes to show the potential of integrating AI into your business marketing strategies. It can analyze customer data way better than you can and help you create personalized campaigns that engage and convert prospects,” Zachariah said.

Quick Case Study #2: How Bitcoin ATM company shifted from low-quality AI-generated content to high-quality human content, and earned 2 backlinks (including one from a competitor)

CoinTime sells Bitcoin at 180 physical ATM locations across four states.

BEFORE – Low-quality AI content

The company’s blog section consisted of low-quality AI-generated content.

Creative Sample #5: Article intro (before)

Creative Sample #5: Article intro (before)

“The idea of relying on AI tools for content production is not bad at all. But what makes a big difference is what (sources, data and info) you are going to feed these AI tools with,” said Ahmed Yousuf Mwafe, SEO Manager and Financial Crypto Author, CoinTime.

Mwafe identified the low-quality AI-content through a content audit, looking for opportunities for improve SEO. The content wasn’t getting any traffic or backlinks.

AFTER – Content based on what link creators need

The team moved to human-written content, with strict rules for pieces of content. Here’s a look at the step-by-step process they took to create blog posts like ‘Bitcoin ATMs Fees Guide + Charges Calculator.’

Step #1: Find potential link sources

The team started by finding potential sources of inbound links.

“It’s super easy to find things through Google as that's what the whole idea of Google is about – to satisfy your search intent,” Mwafe said. The team started by simply looking up terms like – best bitcoin blogs, best bitcoin atm blogs, best bitcoin publications, best bitcoin journalists, best bitcoin atm in USA – and seeing who was ranking.

They also looked up backlinks. “Ahrefs, SEMrush: here I conducted a simple backlink analysis for my top competitors to find their backlink sources,” he said.

The list of link creators was a mix of high-authority crypto blogs, financial- and crypto-related publications, and CoinTime’s competitors. “Fun fact! The first backlink I got from this campaign was from one of my direct competitors in the USA,” Mwafe said.

Creative Sample #6: Anonymized list of relevant link creators

Creative Sample #6: Anonymized list of relevant link creators

Step #2: Determine what link creators need

The team then focused on how they could serve these links creators. What do they really need?

They settled on reliable data and information sources. Few, if any, competitors provided deep data around topics like fees, limits, and verification requirements in form that makes it easy to read and consume.  

The team also realized that if they had data, they could use it in many ways – from tools like a fee calculator to high-quality written content. It took days of manual work to figure out all the viable sources and gather the data.

“I made sure my content creator is using the best data sources through his workflow,” Mwafe said.

Step #3: Plan content

The team created a list with strict rules about what each blog post should contain for the post’s writer. The plan included:

  • Main topic ideas/headlines
  • Word counts
  • Suggested headings (outlines)
  • Suggested content angles, with more detail on how to address the targeted topic from a unique angle
  • Photos/graphs
  • Notes

Creative Sample #7: List of relevant link creators

Creative Sample #7: List of relevant link creators

Step #4: Create compelling content

“What defines how good our content will be is how deep the research process was,” he said.

The new blog posts were written by humans, with far better copy, based on Mwafe’s research. Navigating Bitcoin ATM fees can be daunting. The team aimed to create a guide that demystifies the costs, helping readers make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary expenses. To meet that goal, the team needed to include info on competitors’ fees as well.

Creative Sample #8: New article intro

Creative Sample #8: New article intro

The new blog posts included data visualization like tables that make it easier to categorize and sort data and interactive graphs.

Creative Sample #9: Interactive graph

Creative Sample #9: Interactive graph

They also built tools, like a fee calculator through which readers can calculate the fees for more than 70 BTM (Bitcoin teller machine) service providers.

Creative Sample #10: Fee calculator

Creative Sample #10: Fee calculator

“Building useful tools like our charges calculator is not easy yet worth trying. We know for sure that nothing will make both of our end users and link creators happy more than a useful reliable tool that makes their life easier,” Mwafe said.

Step #5: Sit back and get links

I wasn’t sure what to call this step. I asked Mwafe to see the actual copy he was using to pitch to link creators. I knew our readers would be interested in seeing it.

I was surprised when he told me…he wasn’t. Well, at least not yet. “You might not believe me, but I did not start the pitching process yet, as i am going though loads and loads of work and we are super low on budget,” Mwafe said.

Link creators simply found the posts in Google and linked to them organically.

RESULTS – Backlinks and ranking

Within 20 days, the strategy yielded two high-quality, free backlinks from relevant blogs on similar topics – one of them from a competitor, as mentioned earlier.

This hasn’t generated significant traffic…yet. “The backlinks we got are pretty new and fresh. We are talking about three to four days ago, and that in the world of search engine algorithms is nothing, so It needs more time, as Google algorithm does not give a huge boost in traffic instantly when it notices new backlinks. Instead in many cases it takes from two to three weeks to start to be translated into more decent impacts,” Mwafe said.

But the team has started to notice an impact on its search engine rankings from the higher-quality content. For example:

  • Ranked #3 for Bitcoin ATM fee calculator
  • Ranked #5 for Bitcoin ATM charges in USA
  • Ranked #6 for Bitcoin ATM fees in USA

“It's not about us or what we do! It is about how we can attract the right people's attention,” Mwafe said. “We know that no one will care if we are the best in something until they notice us and figure that we exist. People will not get attached to what or how we do something unless we show a good why, and our why is ‘Making it easier for all of us.’”

Quick Case Study #3: How med spa boosted its social media presence and sales by dropping purchase requirement

Belle Visage Med Spa has been in business for three years and specializes in medical aesthetic services.

BEFORE: Social media giveaway campaigns with purchase requirement, low-value prizes

Social media sweepstakes failed to generate excitement or motivate clients to engage with the brand on social media.

Creative Sample #11: Instagram post promoting sweepstakes from medical spa (before)

Creative Sample #11: Instagram post promoting sweepstakes from medical spa (before)

The medical spa brought in an agency to help, and they identified two issues.

First, the giveaways were of low perceived value, which made them less attractive to potential participants. Clients may have felt that the effort of making a purchase and entering the giveaway was not worth the potential reward.

Second, the requirement to make a purchase to enter the giveaway created a barrier to entry, limiting the number of people who were willing or able to participate.

AFTER: Social media giveaway campaigns with no purchase requirement, high-value prizes

Step #1: Identify and leverage vendor partnerships

“We asked them to reach out to all of their reps and vendors and ask them to donate to this campaign, so they didn't spend a lot of their own money. This approach helped aid in our success because, let's face it, your vendors want you to be successful. They want you to push more product because that is a benefit to them as well," said JuliAna Wasko, Marketing Consultant, Diamond Accelerator (Belle Visage’s marketing agency).

Step #2: Launch a new campaign for the company’s anniversary

The team launched a new campaign for the med spa’s third anniversary that featured:

  • High-value giveaway baskets: Valued at over $2,000
  • No purchase requirement: Clients only needed to follow Belle Visage Med Spa's social media account to participate.
  • Scripting and workflow integration: Customized scripts for in-office staff to actively encourage clients to follow the med spa’s social media accounts to enter the giveaway contest along with seamlessly integrated workflows to direct clients to their social media channels during treatments.
  • Mutli-channel promotion strategy: Social media platforms, targeted text blasts, email newsletters, and video content (a video that thoroughly explained the contents and value of the prize baskets)
  • Flash sale on expiring injectables: After running two giveaways on social media, the team released a low-priced flash sale on fillers

Creative Sample #12: Instagram post with video promoting sweepstakes from medical spa (after)

Creative Sample #12: Instagram post with video promoting sweepstakes from medical spa (after)

Step #3: Address unexpected challenges and refine strategy

“During our first giveaway, we encountered an unexpected situation when we discovered that the winner didn't actually live in the state. This forced us to quickly pivot halfway through the month and ensure that we were crystal clear about the requirements the winner needed to meet. We made it explicitly clear that they needed to live locally and be able to attend treatments. This experience taught us the importance of setting clear eligibility criteria from the outset to avoid any confusion or complications down the line,” Wasko said.

RESULTS: More engaged followers and sales

The campaign grew social media followers from 871 to 1,215 in three weeks, a 40% increase.

It also better engaged followers, with 15,500 accounts reached (a 225% increase) and 580 accounts engaged (a 517% increase). Facebook visits increased 23% to 1,500 and Instagram profile visits increased 78% to 1,700.

The flash sale sold out expiring injectables.

“It was like a buzz of excitement around the med spa. Everyone was talking about the amazing prize baskets and the best part was when we launched the flash sale on fillers, people were so eager to take advantage of the great deal. It was like the giveaways had primed them to be excited about our offerings. We couldn't believe how quickly the product sold out and appointments filled up,” said Michelle Beeson, MD, Owner, Belle Visage Medical Aesthetics.

This article was originally distributed through the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Related resources

Effective Audience Engagement Strategies: Real-life examples from social media and email marketing

Email Marketing: 91% of marketers find target audience testing effective

Customer Personas: 7 tactics for using personas to connect with your target buyers

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